Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Mad Maximillian, Gaslands, and Car Racing

    Posted By on February 11, 2018

    The “Green Death” is from Eureka Miniatures.

    Zeb Cook and I are planning to run a car race game on Sunday at Cold Wars in a couple of weeks.  Months ago I got my hands on the Pulp 1930’s race cars from Eureka Miniatures, and Zeb did as well.  So we thought that a short game on Sunday morning would be fun.

    The +/- PI car is also from Eureka Miniatures.

    I saw a video play through of Gaslands and ordered the rules.  They weren’t supposed to have arrived until a day or two prior to Cold Wars, but they arrived this week with all the plastic templates, skid dice, and markers.  This weekend, after our monthly Ghost Archipelago game, I put a couple of cars on the table to try to figure out how the rules worked.

    This is the Number 9 car from Eureka Miniatures. I think this one is called Mad Maximillian in their catalog.

    The game is pretty fun.  It’s not awesome, but it is a light game that will work great on a convention Sunday, like chariot races.

    The Number 3 car was very painful to paint. Yellow is very hard.

    This provided the impetus for me to finish these cards that have been base sprayed for a couple of months and have been sitting on my painting table taunting me.

    The Number 12 car started as a $5 car from the grocery store checkout stand.

    I have four of the Eureka cars (which is all they make, I think), but I felt like I needed more of them, so I tried to make one from the cheap cars often found at the supermarket checkout line.  They are slightly out of scale, but I think they look pretty good next to the Eureka ones.  I used some Dixson seated gangster to drive.  I have a few guns and plan to make one or two more before Cold Wars if I can, but I am running out of time.  Thankfully Zeb has four as well, so we have enough for the convention.

    The Black Jackals with Combat Patrol (pt. 2)

    Posted By on January 29, 2018

    This is the second installment of Brian Ivers’ Black Jackals battle report using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.  The Jackals prepare to retreat toward Battalion.

    The Boys ATR and another section offsite them hold the line while the rest of the platoon “hops it.” The 2-inch mortar prepares a fire mission to screen the withdrawal.

    “Jerry” is not sympathetic and moves Panzer Grenadiers into the houses. They push forward a Panzer III.

    The Boys ATR will only scratch the paint on the Pz. III, and the mortar won’t do much better. Things are looking grim!

    (Pardon the anachronistic skirts on the Pz. III.) The two-inch mortar gets to incredibly lucky hits on the halftracks. Even using the grenade template the mortar has a huge effect.

    Unteroffizer Schreck Lodges a formal complaint about the mortar into the building occupied by Lance Corporal Jones and the Boys ATR team. This is the second hit on the building, which is tracked using a green die. Since the gun on the Pz. III is small and the first round was AP, Brian decided that the building could take three hits before it was destroyed.  All the occupants are stunned (as denoted by the red rubber bands).

    I use red rubber bands for wounds, black for stunts, and white for out of ammunition, but any mechanism that works for you is fine.  Sally 4th also makes some nice markers from MDF.

    To add injury to insult [sic], a rather motivated squad of Panzer Grenadiers course small arms and machine-gun fire into the house occupied by no. 3 section. All inside are stunned, and one is incapacitated.

    German mortars fall like leaves in Autumn. No. 3 section suffers two wounded. All are stunned. Lt. Lamb has needs to get it sorted “before we have a bloody disaster on our hands.”

    Meanwhile the rest of the lads have almost reached relative comfort of the forest when the sound of a Stuka’s siren interrupts their quiet walk in the sun. It misses again. God favors the Jackals. But the sound of armored treads can be heard from the forest…

    It’s Lt. Tiffan-Smyte from the Lancastershire Yeomanry. “I heard you were in trouble, old boy, and thought you’d like a lift.” Lamb reaches out a hand in greeting. “Bloody Hell! Where did you come from?”

    The platoon retreats into the forest to link up with another battalion.  Theirs has retreated and is miles away.  Lamb has lost four men, with three wounded.  2nd section disappeared completely, as they continued moving into another part of the forest and were scooped up by another retreating company.  Lamb has his mortar, but no ammunition.  The ATR is damaged and is now even less useful.  His little command is not just one officer and 21 men.  Jerry outflanked the canal, and the Belgians and French are retreating.  The British are now trying to avoid being “put in the bag.”

    To be continued…

     

    Play Test of Combat Patrol for Pre-Flintlock Era

    Posted By on January 29, 2018

    Not quite a bastle house, but it was okay for a play test.

    Yesterday I held an impromptu play test of the version of Combat Patrol for pre-flintlock ear warfare.  The initial impetus for this project was to game the border rievers period, but the guys in the club want to use it for various fantasy projects.  I think it will also be good for dark ages, medieval, and ancient skirmishes.

    The initial setup for the game.

    This was meant to exercise the rules, so the scenario was sort of an afterthought.  I had ten “teams” or “gangs.”  Players drew record cards randomly to determine which forces they commanded.  Then they drew a poker chip from their bag to determine which side they were on.  It didn’t result in as convoluted a situation as I had hoped, as all the “good guys” ended up on one end of the table, making it easy for them to protect the herds of sheep and cows.

    The green “gang” in their initial positions.

    To make it easier for players to distinguish their figures on the table, the gangs are color coded, where the predominant color is easily discerned.

    The purple gang.

    The red gang.

    A group of mounted Rievers riding to the fray.

    The purple gang and the red gang lock horns.

    As expected, the game started with long range musketry and archery fire.  The ranges are pretty short, so it wasn’t long before the melee began.

    The green gang’s archers do a lot of damage to the farmers, as can be seen by all the rubber bands on them. Also, the leader was killed, so their command die was replaced by a black one to show that the unit is pinned.

    It looked like the blue gang was going to easily overwhelm the brown gang and capture the house, so the defenders began herding their livestock away from the house.  They also ran the women out to where the herds were moving.  Apparently the defenders did not trust the brown gang to defend their daughters.

    When he skirmish began, the sheep and cows were grazing.

    The Action Deck was re-designed to include more melee information on the Action Cards.  Also, melee is no longer a single simultaneous “flip,” as in WWII.  Each weapon has a “reach” value, which determines who gets to attack first.   Weapons with the same reach attack simultaneously.  These changes worked quite well.

    The mounted Rivers took a archery fire from the gray gang which unhorsed one of the riders.

    We used the mounted rules from the Napoleonic supplement to Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.  They worked just fine.  In the Napoleonic supplement, when firing on mounted figures, you flip an Action Card and look at the d10 icon to determine if you hit the man or the horse.  I put an icon to help with that on the Action Cards for this version of the game.

    The farmers begin to drop from carbine and archery fire.

    There is now a new “cover” icon on the cards.  It looks like a shield.  If you see the shield icon, and the hit location indicates a body part with armor, the amount of damage is reduced.  Metal armor reduces damage by 2.  Non-metal armor reduces damage by 1.  Shields also reduce damage by 1.  For this scenario, most figures had not armor, but a few had metal helmets or breast plates.

    The sheep and cows being herded away from the attackers.

    Weapons also have a damage modifier.  For instance, a two-handed axe is a +1 weapon, so it would add one point of damage after a successful attack.

    The blue gang and brown gang mix it up.

    The green gang’s archers do a lot of damage to the farmers, as can be seen by all the rubber bands on them. Also, the leader was killed, so their command die was replaced by a black one to show that the unit is pinned.

    The purple gang gets the upper hand on the red gang.

    A scrum involving three of the gray Rievers and one of the mounted Rievers.

    In the end the defenders were able to retain most of their flocks (and women).  The green gang captured a few pigs, but the sheep and cows (and women) were safe.

    Again the object of this first play test wasn’t so much the scenario as the rules.  As a result, I’ve made a few changes and am ready for another play test in the foreseeable future.

    The Black Jackals with Combat Patrol

    Posted By on January 26, 2018

    The setup for the first scenario in Brian’s campaign based on the Black Jackals books by Ian Gales.

    This morning I received an Email from Brian Ivers, a Combat Patrol player in Colorado about the first game in a campaign he is running based on the books The Black Jackals by  Ian Gales (https://youtu.be/LONqUKlrC2U).  He kindly gave me permission to repost his battle report on my blog.  The campaign begins at the Driel Canal in Belgium in June 1940.  Lieutenant Lamg’s platoon from the 51st Highlanders is ordered to defend this bridge and blow it up if the Germans try to cross.

    Lamb’s platoon of three sections set up on either side of the canal. The Boys anti-tank rifle was located in a building next to the bridge. Each section had a Bren.

    Refugees fleeing the German advance make life difficult for both sides. Brian used French civilians and a few trucks to represent them. Brian used a green deck to control their movements.

    Brian mixed in some random events, like a Stuka attack, reinforcements, communications breakdowns, etc.  When a random event occurred, he rolled on a special table he made to determine what happened.  The Combat Patrol Activation Deck includes optional cards to trigger Game Master and Random events.

    As the Germans advance, they have a limited line of fire. The Boys ATR only has a penetration of 2, but it is enough to make the Germans cautious.

    The Germans lead with their motorcycle reconnaissance element. The ATR scores a hit and incapacitates to Germans. “The Jerries know we’re here now, boys,” Lamb says.

    The Germans unload their trucks and advance using the buildings as cover.

    A Stuka attack misses the men on the British side of the bridge.  Refugees race across to the British side of the bridge.  Lamb wants to blow the bridge, but he doesn’t want to kill innocent civilians.

    German armor and halftracks advance. German infantry is infiltrating into the houses and firing on the British.

    Lamb gets a radio message to withdraw.

    Lamb blows the bridge. Only three civilians are killed. The Germans lose a motorcycle and a half track in the explosion.

    The bridge needs repair. The Jackals begin their journey back to the regiment.

     

    Combat Patrol Games at Barrage

    Posted By on January 23, 2018

    Geoff and Don staffed the registration table all weekend.

    This past weekend, the Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers hosted our annual, two-day, gaming convention, Barrage.  The event was a big success.  There were a number of Combat Patrol: WWII games on offer.

    Poland 1939

    I ran a game set in Poland in 1939.  The Poles were conducting reconnaissance and ran into a German force moving to capture a farmhouse to establish a battle position.

    Polish infantry and a machinegun-equipped tankette establish a blocking position.

    This tankette slowed the German advance.

    German infantry advance toward the farm house and are taken under fire from Polish infantry.

    Star Wars (Rebels Era)

    Greg ran a Rebels era Star Wars game using Combat Patrol.  The Rebels had attacked the cargo hold of an Imperial ship to steal supplies, but it was a trap.  Stormtroopers and Darth Vader attacked from both ends of the hold, turning the scenario into an escape and evasion mission for the Rebels.

    Getting ready to start.

    It looks like something important just happened…

    Stormtroopers make use of improvised cover from some control panels.

    Star Wars (Clone Wars Era)

    Greg ran a second Star Wars game using the free Star Wars supplement to Combat Patrol.  This one was a battle between droids and clones on a jungle planet.

    A long shot of Greg’s table.

    Fighting near an ancient pyramid.

    Clones advance!

    Moros in the Philippines

    Moros advanced to a small farm house to seize cattle for food.  An American patrol was sent to stop them.  The Moros had very few firearms but made use of the ones they had.  One American squad was caught in the open and was badly mauled until reinforcements could arrive to bail them out.  In the end, the Moros escaped with the cattle.

    In the top left, you can see the remnants of the squad that was caught in the ope. Two Moro rifles were enough to stop them. In the center of the picture you can see part of a second American squad that moved up to rescue the first. In the foreground you see a third squad that was cautiously advancing toward the farm.

    Moros making good use of cover to advance on the Americans.

    Combat Patrol(TM) works very well for the Philippines.  Typically I use the Japanese decks for the Moros, but I forgot to bring them this time, so they had “normal” morale.    If the Moros make good use of cover and concealment they can mitigate the American firepower advantage.  When the Moros hit the Americans in hand-to-hand combat, the Americans feel suitable overwhelmed.  The Moros are difficult to defeat in hand-to-hand combat, but not impossible.

    Tekumel

    Bill Acheson ran a Tekumel game using the under-development Combat Patrol(TM): Dark Ages and Fantasy (working title) rules.  Tekumel is the world in the fantasy role playing game Empires of the Petal Throne by M.A.R. Barker.  The races, flora, and fauna are not based on Earth mythology, so the feel of the game is quite different.

    Bill running his Tekumel game with Combat Patrol(TM).

    His scenario involved humans attacking into a tunnel system occupied by bug-like creatures.

    A view from the point of view of the crashed spaceship with ancient technology worth fighting to own.

    Chaos ensures as the bugs are able to use the narrow passages to good advantage.

    By all accounts the new Combat Patrol(TM) rules that focus on melee more than shooting worked very well.  There were some quibbles about the magic that Bill is bolting on and some scenario tweaks before he runs it at another convention, but in general, I think the players felt the rules worked for a melee-heavy period.

    Finland 1939

    Zeb Cook ran a Finland 1939 game with the free Winter War supplement to Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.  The Russians were advancing against hidden Finnish opposition.

    Russians attacking Finns.

    The Day After Barrage

    Posted By on January 23, 2018

    Barrage was a great success, but on Sunday I was pretty tired and couldn’t really get motivated to do any of the other stuff I needed to get done, so like any good war gamer, I painted.

    A full platoon of Pig Iron “serious” science fiction figures.

    I have already painted one platoon of Pig Iron figures.  I really like them.  I bought an enemy platoon.  They have been assembled, filed, primed, based, and awaiting paint for some months.  I figured they would be quick and easy to paint, since I didn’t plan to paint them in any elaborate camouflage patterns, just territorial beige.

    The three rifle squads

    I organized my platoon into three rifle squads a heavy weapon squad, and a couple of extra teams.

    The left half of the rifle squad picture, showing the B teams.

    The right half of the rifle squads showing the A teams.

    An anti-tank section with a section leader.

    The heavy weapons squad. One team has a light machine-gun and a flamer. The other team has a heavy machine-gun and a light machine-gun.

    The sniper team attached to the platoon headquarters.

    The platoon headquarters with the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and radio operator.

    The Jetsons and Other Science Fiction Civilians, mostly

    Posted By on January 23, 2018

    Judy, George, Jane, and Elroy

    In addition to final prep for Barrage, I also managed to get a few figures painted.  The first were some science fiction civilians I ordered a month or so ago.  These were kind of fun to paint, since I really used mostly block painting to give them a cartoon look.

    More civilians, mostly.  The girl on the right is holding an Alf doll.

    A few more civilians.

    In addition, I finally painted the Steampunk George Stephenson figure that I received at Partizan last year.  Partizan is held in the George Stephenson exhibit hall.  I don’t think he really had a mechanical arm.  🙂

    Steam Punk George Stephenson

    Finally, I had this little elephant pendant (about an inch long) that my buddy Ma’k gave me to see what I might do with it.  I made it a heavy weapon platform for my space ducks.

    Barrage 2017 was a great success

    Posted By on January 23, 2018

    See pictures here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/142143895@N06/albums/72157668763280169/page1

    One Day to Barrage

    Posted By on January 18, 2018

    Barrage is tomorrow in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  See http://www.hawks-barrage.org for more information, directions, etc.

    Tomorrow and Saturday will be great days for gaming.  The weather will be too cold to be outside working on your honey-do list.  It has snowed recently, but the roads are clear and dry.  We have food available on site for a reasonable price, so once you get hear you won’t have to go out in the cold.

    We have a terrific slate of games on offer.  Why not sped the day doing what you love with a great bunch of fellow gamers?  Come for both days.  Can’t take off Friday, come after work.  But don’t miss all the fun.

    Two Days to Barrage

    Posted By on January 17, 2018

     

    The best little wargaming convention on the East Coast is in JUST TWO DAYS.  Come to two days of non-stop gaming fun at Barrage.  See http://www.hawks-barrage.org for more details.

    Two soldiers blowing a hole in the opposition to get to Barrage.